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Fungi as source for new bio-based materials: a patent review

Cerimi, Kustrim; Akkaya, Kerem Can; Pohl, Carsten; Schmidt, Bertram; Neubauer, Peter

FG Bioverfahrenstechnik

Background The circular economy closes loops in industrial manufacturing processes and minimizes waste. A bio-based economy aims to replace fossil-based resources and processes by sustainable alternatives which exploits renewable biomass for the generation of products used in our daily live. A current trend in fungal biotechnology—the production of fungal-based biomaterials—will contribute to both. Results This study gives an overview of various trends and development applications in which fungal mycelium is used as new and sustainable biomaterial. A patent survey covering the last decade (2009–2018) yielded 47 patents and patent applications claiming fungal biomass or fungal composite materials for new applications in the packaging, textile, leather and automotive industries. Furthermore, fungal-based materials are envisaged for thermal insulation and as fire protection materials. Most patents and patent applications describe the use of different lignin- and cellulose-containing waste biomass as substrate for fungal cultivations, covering 27 different fungal species in total. Our search uncovered that most patent activities are on-going in the United States and in China. Conclusion Current patent developments in the field suggest that fungal bio-based materials will considerable shape the future of material sciences and material applications. Fungal materials can be considered as an excellent renewable and degradable material alternative with a high innovation potential and have the potential to replace current petroleum-based materials.